Encyclopedia Astronautica

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Duke, Charles Moss Jr 'Charlie' (1935-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on Apollo 16. Tenth person to walk on the moon.

US Navy test pilot. Total EVA Time: 0.90 days. Number of EVAs: 5.

NASA Official Biography

NAME: Charles Moss Duke, Jr. (Brigadier General, USAF, Ret.)
NASA Astronaut (former)

PERSONAL DATA: Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 3, 1935. Married to the former Dorothy Meade Clairborne of Atlanta, Georgia. They have two grown sons. Recreational interests include hunting, fishing, reading, and playing golf.

EDUCATION: Attended Lancaster High School in Lancaster, South Carolina, and was graduated valedictorian from the Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida; received a bachelor of science degree in Naval Sciences from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957 and a master of science degree in Aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964; presented an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the University of South Carolina in 1973, and an honorary doctorate of Humanities from Francis Marion College in 1990.

ORGANIZATIONS: Member of the Air Force Association, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Reserve Officer Association, Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship, Christian Businessmen's Committee; National Space Society.

SPECIAL HONORS: Awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the JSC Certificate of Commendation (1970), the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and AF Legion of Merit, and Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings, the SETP Iven C. Kincheloe Award of 1972, the AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1972, the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1973, and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale V.M. Komarov Diploma in 1973; named South Carolina Man of the Year in 1973 and inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1973; and presented the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1975.

EXPERIENCE: When notified of his selection as an astronaut, Duke was at the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School as an instructor teaching control systems and flying in the F-101, F-104, and T-33 aircraft. He graduated from the Aerospace Research Pilot School in September 1965 and stayed on there as an instructor.

He is a retired Air Force Reserve Brigadier General and was commissioned in 1957 upon graduation from the Naval Academy. Upon entering the Air Force, he went to Spence Air Base, Georgia, for primary flight training and then to Webb Air Force Base, Texas, for basic flying training, where in 1958 he became a distinguished graduate. He was again a distinguished graduate at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, where he completed advanced training in F-86L aircraft. Upon completion of this training, he served three years as a fighter interceptor pilot with the 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germanypilot with the 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

He has logged 4,147 hours flying time, which includes 3,632 hours in jet aircraft.

Duke was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 10 flight. He was CAPCOM for Apollo 11, the first landing on the Moon and he served as backup lunar module pilot on Apollo 13.

Duke served as lunar module pilot of Apollo 16, April 16-27, 1972. He was accompanied on the fifth manned lunar landing mission by John W. Young (spacecraft commander) and Thomas K. Mattingly II (command module pilot). Apollo 16 was the first scientific expedition to inspect, survey, and sample materials and surface features in the Descartes region of the rugged lunar highlands. Duke and Young commenced their record setting lunar surface stay of 71 hours and 14 minutes by maneuvering the lunar module "Orion" to a landing on the rough Cayley Plains. In three subsequent excursions onto the lunar surface, they each logged 20 hours and 15 minutes in extravehicular activities involving the emplacement and activation of scientific equipment and experiments, the collection of nearly 213 pounds of rock and soil samples, and the evaluation and use of Rover-2 over the roughest and blockiest surface yet encountered on the moon.

Other Apollo 16 achievements included the largest payload placed in lunar orbit (76, 109 pounds); first cosmic ray detector deployed on lunar surface; first lunar observatory with the far UV camera; and longest in-flight EVA from a command module during transearth coast (1 hour and 13 minutes). The latter feat was accomplished by Mattingly when he ventured out to "Casper's" SIM-bay for the retrieval of vital film cassettes from the panoramic and mapping cameras. Apollo 16 concluded with a Pacific Ocean splashdown and subsequent recovery by the USS TICONDEROGA.

With the completion of his first space flight, Duke has logged 265 hours in space and over 21 hours of extra vehicular activity.

Duke also served as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 17.

In December 1975, Duke retired from the Astronaut program to enter private business. He is owner of Duke Investments, and is President of Charlie Duke Enterprises. He is an active speaker and Christian lay witness and President of Duke Ministry For Christ.


Birth Place: Charlotte, North Carolina.
Status: Inactive.

Born: 1935.10.03.
Spaceflights: 1 .
Total time in space: 11.08 days.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Astronaut Category of persons, applied to those trained for spaceflight outside of Russia and China. More...
  • NASA Group 5 - 1966 Requirement: pilot-astronauts for the Apollo Applications Program (then planned as 10 lunar landings after Apollo 11 and 30 Apollo flights to earth-orbit space stations). Nickname: The Original Nineteen More...

Associated Flights
  • Apollo 13 Crew: Haise, Lovell, Swigert. Altitude (401,056 km) record. Fuel cell tank exploded en route to the moon, resulting in loss of all power and oxygen. Only through use of the still-attached LM as a lifeboat could the crew survive to return to earth. Backup crew: Duke, Mattingly, Young.Support crew: Brand, Lousma, Kerwin. More...
  • Apollo 16 Crew: Duke, Mattingly, Young. Second Apollo mission with lunar rover. CSM main engine failure detected in lunar orbit. Landing almost aborted. Backup crew: Haise, Mitchell, Roosa. More...
  • Apollo 17 Crew: Cernan, Evans, Schmitt. Final Apollo lunar landing mission. First geologist to walk on the moon. Backup crew: Duke, Roosa, Young. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Apollo The successful US project to land a man on the moon. More...

  • NASA Astronaut Biographies, Johnson Space Center, NASA, 1995-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Duke Chronology

1966 April 4 - .
  • NASA Astronaut Training Group 5 selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Brand; Bull; Carr; Duke; Engle; Evans; Givens; Haise; Irwin; Lind; Lousma; Mattingly; McCandless; Mitchell; Pogue; Roosa; Swigert; Weitz; Worden. The group was selected to provide pilot-astronauts for the Apollo Applications Program (then planned as 10 lunar landings after Apollo 11 and 30 Apollo flights to earth-orbit space stations).. Qualifications: Qualified jet pilot with minimum 1,000 flight-hours, bachleor's degree in engineering or physical or biological sciences, under 35 years old, under 183 cm height, excellent health. US citizen.. 351 applications (including six women and a legless US Navy pilot). All 19, except X-15 astronaut Engle, would fly into space on Apollo or Skylab missions. Engle and six others would fly shuttle missions.

1968 April 5-7 - .
  • A 48-hour delayed-recovery test with Apollo CSM 007 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Lovell; Roosa; Duke. Program: Apollo. Astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., Stuart A. Roosa, and Charles M. Duke, Jr., participated in a recovery test of spacecraft 007, conducted by the MSC Landing and Recovery Division in the Gulf of Mexico. The test crew reported that while they did not "recommend the Apollo spacecraft for any extended sea voyages they encountered no serious habitability problems during the 48-hour test. Additional Details: here....

1970 April 11 - . 19:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V. LV Configuration: Saturn V SA-508.
  • Apollo 13 - . Call Sign: Odyssey. Crew: Haise; Lovell; Swigert. Backup Crew: Duke; Mattingly; Young. Support Crew: Brand; Lousma; Kerwin. Payload: Apollo CSM 109 / Apollo LM 7 / ALSEP / S-IVB-508. Mass: 28,790 kg (63,470 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Haise; Lovell; Swigert; Duke; Mattingly; Young; Brand; Lousma; Kerwin. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 13. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM; CSM Fuel Cell. Duration: 5.95 days. Decay Date: 1970-04-17 . USAF Sat Cat: 4371 . COSPAR: 1970-029A. Apogee: 186 km (115 mi). Perigee: 184 km (114 mi). Inclination: 32.5000 deg. Period: 88.31 min. Apollo 13 (AS-508) was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 2:13 p.m. EST April 11, with astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., and Fred W. Haise, Jr., aboard. The spacecraft and S-IVB stage entered a parking orbit with a 185.5-kilometer apogee and a 181.5-kilometer perigee. At 3:48 p.m., onboard TV was begun for five and one-half minutes. At 4:54 p.m., an S-IVB burn placed the spacecraft on a translunar trajectory, after which the CSM separated from the S-IVB and LM Aquarius. (The crew had named lunar module 7 Aquarius and CSM 109 Odyssey.) The CSM then hard-docked with the LM. The S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system made an evasive maneuver after CSM/LM ejection from the S-IVB at 6:14 p.m. The docking and ejection maneuvers were televised during a 72-minute period in which interior and exterior views of the spacecraft were also shown.

    At 8:13 p.m. EST a 217-second S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system burn aimed the S-IVB for a lunar target point so accurately that another burn was not required. The S-IVB/IU impacted the lunar surface at 8:10 p.m. EST on April 14 at a speed of 259 meters per second. Impact was 137.1 kilometers from the Apollo 12 seismometer. The seismic signal generated by the impact lasted 3 hours 20 minutes and was so strong that a ground command was necessary to reduce seismometer gain and keep the recording on the scale. The suprathermal ion detector experiment, also deployed by the Apollo 12 crew, recorded a jump in the number of ions from zero at the time of impact up to 2,500 shortly thereafter and then back to a zero count. Scientists theorized that ionization had been produced by 6,300 K to 10,300 K (6,000 degrees C to 10,000 degrees C) temperature generated by the impact or that particles had reached an altitude of 60 kilometers from the lunar surface and had been ionized by sunlight.

    Meanwhile back in the CSM/LM, the crew had been performing the routine housekeeping duties associated with the period of the translunar coast. At 30:40 ground elapsed time a midcourse correction maneuver took the spacecraft off a free-return trajectory in order to control the arrival time at the moon. Ensuring proper lighting conditions at the landing site. The maneuver placed the spacecraft on the desired trajectory, on which the closest approach to the moon would be 114.9 kilometers.

    At 10:08 p.m. EST April 13, the crew reported an undervoltage alarm on the CSM main bus B, rapid loss of pressure in SM oxygen tank No. 2, and dropping current in fuel cells 1 and 3 to a zero reading. The loss of oxygen and primary power in the service module required an immediate abort of the mission. The astronauts powered up the LM, powered down the CSM, and used the LM systems for power and life support. The first maneuver following the abort decision was made with the descent propulsion system to place the spacecraft back in a free-return trajectory around the moon. After the spacecraft swung around the moon, another maneuver reduced the coast time back to earth and moved the landing point from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific.

1972 April 16 - . 17:54 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V. LV Configuration: Saturn V SA-511.
  • Apollo 16 - . Call Sign: Caspar. Crew: Duke; Mattingly; Young. Backup Crew: Haise; Mitchell; Roosa. Payload: Apollo CSM 113/LM 11/ ALSEP/ LRV-2/PFS 2/S-IVB-511. Mass: 30,358 kg (66,927 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Duke; Mattingly; Young; Haise; Mitchell; Roosa. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 16. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Duration: 11.08 days. Decay Date: 1972-04-27 . USAF Sat Cat: 6000 . COSPAR: 1972-031A. Apogee: 169 km (105 mi). Perigee: 167 km (103 mi). Inclination: 32.5420 deg. Period: 88.93 min. The Apollo 16 (AS-511) space vehicle was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 12:54 p.m. EST April 16, with a crew of astronauts John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II, and Charles M. Duke, Jr. After insertion into an earth parking orbit for spacecraft system checks, the spacecraft and the S-IVB stage were placed on a trajectory to the moon at 3:28 p.m. CSM transposition and docking with the LM were achieved, although a number of minor anomalies were noted.

    One anomaly, an auxiliary propulsion system leak on the S-IVB stage, produced an unpredictable thrust and prevented a final S-IVB targeting maneuver after separation from the CSM. Tracking of the S-IVB ended at 4:04 p.m. EST April 17, when the instrument unit's signal was lost. The stage hit the lunar surface at 4:02 p.m. April 19, 260 kilometers northeast of the target point. The impact was detected by the seismometers left on the moon by the Apollo 12, 14, and 15 missions.

    Spacecraft operations were near normal during the coast to the moon. Unexplained light-colored particles from the LM were investigated and identified as shredded thermal paint. Other activities during the translunar coast included a cislunar navigation exercise, ultraviolet photography of the earth and moon, an electrophoresis demonstration, and an investigation of the visual light-flash phenomenon noted on previous flights. Astronaut Duke counted 70 white, instantaneous light flashes that left no after-glow.

    Apollo 16 entered a lunar orbit of 314 by 107.7 kilometers at 3:22 p.m. April 19. After separation of LM-11 Orion from CSM 112 Casper, a CSM active rendezvous kept the two vehicles close together while an anomaly discovered on the service propulsion system was evaluated. Tests and analyses showed the redundant system to be still safe and usable if required. The vehicles were again separated and the mission continued on a revised timeline because of the 5 3/4-hour delay.

    The lunar module landed with Duke and Young in the moon's Descartes region, about 230 meters northwest of the planned target area at 9:23 p.m. EST April 20. A sleep period was scheduled before EVA.

    The first extravehicular activity began at 11:59 a.m. April 21, after the eight-hour rest period. Television coverage of surface activity was delayed until the lunar roving vehicle systems were activated, because the steerable antenna on the lunar module could not be used. The lunar surface experiments packages were deployed, but accidental breaking of the electronics cable rendered the heat flow experiment inoperable. After completing activities at the experiments site, the crew drove the lunar roving vehicle west to Flag Crater, where they performed the planned tasks. The inbound traverse route was just slightly south of the outbound route, and the next stop was Spook Crater. The crew then returned via the experiment station to the lunar module and deployed the solar wind composition experiment. The duration of the extravehicular activity was 7 hours 11 minutes. The distance traveled by the lunar roving vehicle was 4.2 kilometers. The crew collected 20 kilograms of samples.

    The second extravehicular traverse, which began at 11:33 a.m. April 22, was south-southeast to a mare-sampling area near the Cinco Craters on Stone Mountain. The crew then drove in a northwesterly direction, making stops near Stubby and Wreck Craters. The last leg of the traverse was north to the experiments station and the lunar module. The second extravehicular activity lasted 7 hours 23 minutes. The distance traveled by the lunar roving vehicle was 11.1 kilometers.

    Four stations were deleted from the third extravehicular traverse, which began 30 minutes early at 10:27 a.m. April 23 to allow extra time. The first stop was North Ray Crater, where "House Rock" on the rim of the crater was sampled. The crew then drove southeast to "Shadow Rock." The return route to the LM retraced the outbound route. The third extravehicular activity lasted 5 hours 40 minutes, and the lunar roving vehicle traveled 11.4 kilometers.

    Lunar surface activities outside the LM totaled 20 hours 15 minutes for the mission. The total distance traveled in the lunar roving vehicle was 26.7 kilometers. The crew remained on the lunar surface 71 hours 14 minutes and collected 96.6 kilograms of lunar samples.

    While the lunar module crew was on the surface, Mattingly, orbiting the moon in the CSM, was obtaining photographs, measuring physical properties of the moon and deep space, and making visual observations. Essentially the same complement of instruments was used to gather data as was used on the Apollo 15 mission, but different areas of the lunar surface were flown over and more comprehensive deep space measurements were made, providing scientific data that could be used to validate findings from Apollo 15 as well as add to the total store of knowledge of the moon and its atmosphere, the solar system, and galactic space.

    The LM lifted off from the moon at 8:26 p.m. EST April 23, rendezvoused with the CSM, and docked with it in orbit. Young and Duke transferred to the CSM with samples, film, and equipment, and the LM was jettisoned the next day. LM attitude control was lost at jettison; therefore a deorbit maneuver was not possible and the LM remained in lunar orbit, with an estimated orbital lifetime of about one year.

    The particles and fields subsatellite was launched into lunar orbit and normal system operation was noted. However, the spacecraft orbital shaping maneuver was not performed before ejection and the subsatellite was placed in a non-optimum orbit that resulted in a much shorter lifetime than the planned year. Loss of all subsatellite tracking and telemetry data on the 425th revolution (May 29) indicated that the subsatellite had hit the lunar surface.

    The mass spectrometer deployment boom stalled during a retract cycle and was jettisoned before transearth injection. The second plane-change maneuver and some orbital science photography were deleted so that transearth injection could be performed about 24 hours earlier than originally planned.

    Activities during the transearth coast phase of the mission included photography for a contamination study for the Skylab program and completion of the visual light-flash-phenomenon investigation that had been partially accomplished during translunar coast. A 1-hour 24-minute transearth extravehicular activity was conducted by command module pilot Mattingly to retrieve the film cassettes from the scientific instrument module cameras, inspect the equipment, and expose a microbial-response experiment to the space environment. Two midcourse corrections were made on the return flight to achieve the desired entry interface conditions.

1972 April 21 - . 16:47 GMT - .
  • EVA Apollo 16-1 - . Crew: Young; Duke. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.30 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Young; Duke. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar lander. Flight: Apollo 16. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. Summary: Explored lunar surface near LM and deployed ALSEP unmanned scientific station equipment..

1972 April 22 - . 16:33 GMT - .
  • EVA Apollo 16-2 - . Crew: Young; Duke. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.31 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Young; Duke. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar lander. Flight: Apollo 16. Spacecraft: Apollo LRV. Summary: Drove in lunar rover to Stone Mountain..

1972 April 23 - .
  • EVA Apollo 16-4 - . Crew: Young; Duke. EVA Type: Internal Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.0014 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Young; Duke. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar lander. Flight: Apollo 16. Spacecraft: Apollo LM. Summary: Threw excess equipment out of LM before lift-off..

1972 April 23 - . 15:25 GMT - .
  • EVA Apollo 16-3 - . Crew: Young; Duke. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.24 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Young; Duke. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar lander. Flight: Apollo 16. Spacecraft: Apollo LRV. Summary: Drove in lunar rover to North Ray crater..

1972 April 25 - . 20:33 GMT - .
  • EVA Apollo 16-5 - . Crew: Mattingly; Duke. EVA Type: Stand-Up External Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.0507 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Mattingly; Duke. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 16. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Summary: Deep space retrieval of film cartridges from Service Module..

1972 April 27 - .
  • Landing of Apollo 16 - . Return Crew: Duke; Mattingly; Young. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Duke; Mattingly; Young. Program: Apollo. Flight: Apollo 16. Entry and landing were normal, completing a 265-hour 51-minute mission. The command module was viewed on television while dropping on the drogue parachutes, and continuous coverage was provided through crew recovery. Splashdown was at 2:45 p.m. EST (19:45 GMT) in mid-Pacific, 5 kilometers from the recovery ship U.S.S. Ticonderoga. All primary mission objectives had been achieved.

1972 December 7 - . 05:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Saturn V. Launch Vehicle: Saturn V. LV Configuration: Saturn V SA-512.
  • Apollo 17 - . Call Sign: America. Crew: Cernan; Evans; Schmitt. Backup Crew: Duke; Roosa; Young. Payload: Apollo CSM 114/LM 12/ ALSEP/ LRV-3/S-IVB-512. Mass: 30,342 kg (66,892 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Cernan; Evans; Schmitt; Duke; Roosa; Young. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Apollo. Class: Moon. Type: Manned lunar spacecraft. Flight: Apollo 17. Spacecraft: Apollo CSM. Duration: 12.58 days. Decay Date: 1972-12-19 . USAF Sat Cat: 6300 . COSPAR: 1972-096A. Apogee: 167 km (103 mi). Perigee: 167 km (103 mi). Inclination: 28.5260 deg. Period: 87.83 min. Apollo 17 (AS-512), the final Apollo manned lunar landing mission, was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 12:33 a.m. EST December 7. Crew members were astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt. The launch had been delayed 2 hours 40 minutes by a countdown sequencer failure, the only such delay in the Apollo program caused by a hardware failure.

    All launch vehicle systems performed normally in achieving an earth parking orbit of 170 by 168 kilometers. After checkout, insertion into a lunar trajectory was begun at 3:46 a.m.; translunar coast time was shortened to compensate for the launch delay. CSM 114 transposition, docking with LM-12, and LM ejection from the launch vehicle stage were normal. The S-IVB stage was maneuvered for lunar impact, striking the surface about 13.5 kilometers from the preplanned point at 3:27 p.m. EST December 10. The impact was recorded by the passive seismometers left on the moon by Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16.

    The crew performed a heat flow and convection demonstration and an Apollo light-flash experiment during the translunar coast. The scientific instrument module door on the SM was jettisoned at 10:17 a.m. EST December 10. The lunar orbit insertion maneuver was begun at 2:47 p.m. and the Apollo 17 spacecraft entered a lunar orbit of 315 by 97 kilometers. After separation of the LM Challenger from the CSM America and a readjustment of orbits, the LM began its powered descent and landed on the lunar surface in the Taurus-Littrow region at 2:55 p.m. EST on December 11, with Cernan and Schmitt.

    The first EVA began about 4 hours later (6:55 p.m.). Offloading of the lunar roving vehicle and equipment proceeded as scheduled. The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package was deployed approximately 185 meters west northwest of the Challenger. Astronaut Cernan drove the lunar roving vehicle to the experiments deployment site, drilled the heat flow and deep core holes, and emplaced the neutron probe experiment. Two geological units were sampled, two explosive packages deployed, and seven traverse gravimeter measurements were taken. During the 7-hour 12-minute EVA, 14 kilograms of samples were collected.

    The second extravehicular activity began at 6:28 p.m. EST December 12. Because of geological interest, station stop times were modified. Orange soil was discovered and became the subject of considerable geological discussion. Five surface samples and a double core sample were taken in the area of the orange soil. Three explosive packages were deployed, seven traverse gravimeter measurements were taken, and observations were photographed. Samples collected totaled 34 kilograms during the 7 hours and 37 minutes of the second EVA.

    The third and final EVA began at 5:26 p.m. EST December 13. Specific sampling objectives were accomplished. Samples - including blue-gray breccias, fine-grained vesicular basalts, crushed anorthositic rocks, and soils - weighed 66 kilograms. Nine traverse gravimeter measurements were made. The surface electrical properties experiment was terminated. Before reentering the LM, the crew selected a breccia rock to dedicate to the nations represented by students visiting the Mission Control Center. A plaque on the landing gear of the lunar module, commemorating all of the Apollo lunar landings, was then unveiled. After 7 hours 15 minutes, the last Apollo EVA on the lunar surface ended. Total time of the three EVAs was approximately 22 hours; the lunar roving vehicle was driven 35 kilometers, and about 115 kilograms of lunar sample material was acquired.

    While Cernan and Schmitt were exploring the lunar surface, Evans was conducting numerous scientific activities in the CSM in lunar orbit. In addition to the panoramic camera, the mapping camera, and the laser altimeter, three new scientific instrument module experiments were included in the Apollo 17 orbital science equipment. An ultraviolet spectrometer measured lunar atmospheric density and composition; an infrared radiometer mapped the thermal characteristics of the moon; and a lunar sounder acquired data on the subsurface structure.

    Challenger lifted off the moon at 5:55 p.m. EST December 14. Rendezvous with the orbiting CSM and docking were normal. The two astronauts transferred to the CM with samples and equipment and the LM ascent stage was jettisoned at 1:31 a.m. December 15. Its impact on the lunar surface about 1.6 kilometers from the planned target was recorded by four Apollo 17 geophones and the Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16 seismometers emplaced on the surface. The seismic experiment explosive packages that had been deployed on the moon were detonated as planned and recorded on the geophones.

    During the coast back to earth, Evans left the CSM at 3:27 p.m. EST December 17 for a 1-hour 7-minute inflight EVA and retrieved lunar sounder film and panoramic and mapping camera cassettes from the scientific instrument module bay. The crew conducted the Apollo light- flash experiment and operated the infrared radiometer and ultraviolet spectrometer.

    Reentry, landing, and recovery were normal. The command module parachuted into the mid-Pacific at 2:25 p.m. EST December 19, 6.4 kilometers from the prime recovery ship, U.S.S. Ticonderoga. The crew was picked up by helicopter and was on board the U.S.S. Ticonderoga 52 minutes after the CM landed. All primary mission objectives had been achieved.

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